As The World Spins: Falling Space Debris, Gas/Ketchup Shortages And Running Out Of Tires

May 8, 2021

Topsy-turvey life this Saturday afternoon as we face problems from various fronts, including directly overhead.

Last week, China launched a Long March 5B rocket carrying a big piece of that country’s next space station, but the 23-ton core stage has been losing altitude since and will soon make what is called “uncontrolled re-entry” back to Earth, falling no one seems to knw where. And it most-likely will come down tonight, maybe.

Experts might have figured out some pieces of the falling-debris puzzle:

Check your news sources this evening for updates — at least out here in California we appear free of the slam-down shit, but that could well be famous last words, or such.

Meanwhile, on the flat surface of the globe, the pandemic or matters related to it have caused a stir in the the distribution of all kinds of shit, from chicken to tires to gas, even ketchup packets, all getting knocked a bit by problems from transportation to just plain shortages caused by ripple effects off the virus.
A partial inventory:

Of the noted items in the tweet above, the biggest near-immediate concern to the mass of people won’t be chicken or products made from shit like wood and metal, but the availability of gas — a gas shortage could throw a hard-tossed wrench into the scenario, except in this case it’s not scarcity — via CNN this morning:

Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. But good luck finding gas.

It’s not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply.

Between 20-percent to 25-percent of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers, according to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group.
“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC.
“It certainly has grown exponentially.”

Gas prices, which typically rise at the start of the summer as seasonal regulations take effect — requiring the more expensive “summer blend” of gasoline needed to combat smog — are also rising.

The national average price of regular gas already stands at an average of $2.94 a gallon, up more than 60-percent from a year ago when prices and demand were bottoming out.
The national average could surpass $3 a gallon this summer, and even get higher if any hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast or if there are any other disruptions to supply, such as a refinery fire.

A jobs/workers problem here, and not an actual short-list of gas to be delivered, so maybe there’s a way Joe Biden can whack the problem if MoscowMitch will just allow 15-percent of Democrat-led legislation to pass through the Senate — what not funny?
Also not funny and in context with vehicle fuel is the increasing worry over the unavailability of tires:

Situation not yet desperate  — background per Car and Driver last week:

If you have enough to worry about, then don’t spare a thought for all the rubber tires needed in the auto industry.
On the seemingly never-ending list of things that are causing headaches for automobile production plants — COVID precautions; a semiconductor chip shortage; even too few tanker-truck drivers, which could mean a gasoline shortage this summer — we can now add tires.
It’s not a full-blown problem just yet, but tire manufacturers are keeping an eye on the situation.

Bloomberg has reported that the supply of natural rubber, which comes from rubber trees mostly grown in Southeast Asia, is about to get harder to find.
There are a number of reasons, but the main one is that supply was high recently and, because of COVID-19, rubber producers were not able to plant new rubber trees as they otherwise would have.

Since these trees take seven years to mature and leaf disease and flooding have affected the trees that offer the current rubber supply, the supply is dropping.
Add to that higher demand from China, which is the largest consumer of natural rubber in the world and is bouncing back from the pandemic before other major industrial countries, and a lack of shipping containers, and you have a situation where the forecasters can see trouble on the horizon.
According to Bloomberg, rubber prices hit a four-year high in February.

As for 2021, a source told Bloomberg that “[The rubber supply is] definitely tightening up. It’s nowhere near the level of the chip shortage from our perspective so far, but it’s definitely brewing.”

And we wait…

(Illustration: Salvador Dali’s ‘Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion,’ found here).

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